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Qixian Zhong, Jonas W. Mueller, Jane-Ling Wang
Unlike standard prediction tasks, survival analysis requires modeling right censored data, which must be treated with care. While deep neural networks excel in traditional supervised learning, it remains unclear how to best utilize these models in survival analysis. A key question asks which data-generating assumptions of traditional survival models should be retained and which should be made more flexible via the function-approximating capabilities of neural networks. Rather than estimating the survival function targeted by most existing methods, we introduce a Deep Extended Hazard (DeepEH) model to provide a flexible and general framework for deep survival analysis. The extended hazard model includes the conventional Cox proportional hazards and accelerated failure time models as special cases, so DeepEH subsumes the popular Deep Cox proportional hazard (DeepSurv) and Deep Accelerated Failure Time (DeepAFT) models. We additionally provide theoretical support for the proposed DeepEH model by establishing consistency and convergence rate of the survival function estimator, which underscore the attractive feature that deep learning is able to detect low-dimensional structure of data in high-dimensional space. Numerical experiments also provide evidence that the proposed methods outperform existing statistical and deep learning approaches to survival analysis.